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Adolescent female athletes coping with social physique anxiety



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The purpose of this study was to explore how adolescent female athletes cope with social physique anxiety (SPA) within the context of sport. The participants of this study were 73 female athletes ranging in age from 13 to 19 years (M = 15.5, SD = 1.7). The participants provided coping responses to a self-identified situation within sport in which they experienced SPA. Measures of state and trait SPA, coping function, coping effectiveness, and reasons for sport participation were also completed. The female adolescent athletes reported a total of 129 strategies (an average of 1.77 strategies per participant) to cope with their SPA provoking situation, with a range of 1 to 4 coping strategies identified by each participant. Social support (reported by 31.5% of participants), behavioural avoidance (reported by 23.3% of participants), short-term appearance management (reported by 23.3% of participants), humour (reported by 23.3% of participants), cognitive avoidance (reported by 19.3% of participants), and acceptance (reported by 17.8% of participants) were among the coping strategies reported by the highest number of participants. The number of open-ended coping strategies reported was significantly related to State SPA (r = .34, p < .05). Trait SPA was significantly related to avoidance coping function (r = .21, p < .05). This study supports that within the context of sport the way in which female adolescents cope with situations they experience SPA is similar, yet unique, to outside of this specific context. Most coping strategies appear to be consistent in coping with SPA across various contexts outside of sport, such as social support, acceptance, avoidance, and appearance management. It is important to note that consistent with the literature, there was much diversity in what functions were associated with various coping strategies. However, uniqueness occurred as other coping strategies emerged, such as humour, in the context of sport. This study has potential to act as a starting point to better understand the complex links among coping strategies, function, and effectiveness for adolescent females coping with SPA.



Athletes, SPA, Social Physique Anxiety, Coping, Female



Master of Science (M.Sc.)


College of Kinesiology


College of Kinesiology


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